British Council unleashes fashion accelerator programme Creative DNA at CANEX 2023

The Creative DNA programme is specifically designed to support and uplift fashion businesses by nurturing designers' skills, knowledge, and networks in Africa and the UK. Its showcase at Afreximbank’s CANEX 2023 event will give young designers a chance to enter new markets.


Image : © British Council / CDNA

This article is sponsored by British Council

The British Council, a global leader in fostering international cultural and educational opportunities, is set to make a significant impact at the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) 2023, with the announcement of the expansion of its hugely successful fashion accelerator programme, Creative DNA, across Africa.

The Creative DNA programme is specifically designed to support and uplift fashion businesses by nurturing designers’ skills, knowledge, and networks in Africa and the UK. At its core, it aims to promote sustainable fashion practices and ethical design, as well as the use of traditional and artisanal techniques.

By offering creative industries acceleration programmes and presenting showcasing opportunities to emerging designers, the British Council will contribute to economic development and job creation in the fashion sector across the continent.

“We are thrilled to support these talented designers through our Creative DNA programme, providing them with a platform to showcase their creativity and innovation to a global audience,” said Farai Ncube, Regional Arts Director at the British Council. “By nurturing emerging talent and promoting sustainable fashion practices, we are contributing to the vibrant growth of Africa’s fashion industry.”

Following the success of the Creative DNA programme in Kenya – where 3 cohorts have been completed to date – it has since expanded to Ethiopia, Senegal, and Uganda. The programme is now set to launch in more countries across sub-Saharan Africa next year including Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana, offering the opportunities presented by Creative DNA to more African fashion designers.

British Council’s showcase at Afreximbank’s CANEX, part of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) on 9 – 15 November 2023, in Cairo, Egypt, is strategic.

CANEX enjoys a strong reputation for convening a comprehensive range of financial and non-financial tools to bolster trade and investment in Africa’s creative sector. It is well-renowned as a unique platform for collaboration, investment, partnerships, and inspiration, bringing together various creative sectors to facilitate growth and innovation.

At CANEX, Creative DNA intends to showcase the success of the programme by putting forward the products and services of the programme’s beneficiaries. To do this, it has collaborated with British Council Egypt to present four fashion designers from their Egypt Fashion Awards as well as seventeen other designers from the rest of Africa to the largest gathering of creative industry players. Creative DNA will support the participation of these twenty-one emerging African fashion brands at CANEX 2023. They comprise previous and current programme participants who will have unparalleled access to a wealth of opportunities to position their brands to the powerhouses of Intra African and international Trade at CANEX.

British Council’s Creative DNA will showcase these designers at a bespoke exhibition pavilion at CANEX in Hall 9-E905 at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre. It presents an unparalleled platform for these emerging designers to exhibit their creations and engage in meaningful interactions. The curated installation also aims to attract industry professionals, influencers, and media, ensuring that the designers’ creations reach a diverse and influential audience.

At CANEX, Creative DNA intends for the designers to not only have the chance to position themselves as representatives of their country’s fashion excellence, but also to receive invitations for international fashion weeks, trade shows, and collaborations, opening doors to new markets and export opportunities. Creative DNA strives to demonstrate that the fashion sector in Africa is a professional choice for young people and a valuable contributor to the creative economy.